TEMPERATURES are set to hit a scorching 34C this week – leaving thousands at risk of deadly heart and breathing problems.
Public Health England has issued a level 2 health alert – with the young and elderly most vulnerable to the effects of the heatwave.
A packed Bournemouth beach today as people head out to enjoy the hot weather[/caption]
Asthma sufferers and those with hay fever are also being cautioned amid fears of a “pollen explosion” which could increase the risk of deadly attacks.
Almost 2,000 heat-related deaths are thought to occur in the UK each year, and these figures only increasing during a heatwave, figures from the BMJ show.
And the UK’s top nurse has previously warned the risk of serious illness is much higher for the elderly, children and young people, when the mercury soars.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said that those who already have health conditions including heart and breathing problems should stay out of the heat.
How to keep safe in the heat
Hot weather can be difficult for most of us to deal with.
But Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, has warned the risk of serious illness is much higher for the elderly, children and young people, and those who already have health conditions including heart and breathing problems.
She has urged everyone to take care, and encouraged people to keep an eye on their neighbours and relatives.
Her top tips include:
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. You can open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler
- If you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat, avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day (11am and 3pm).
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol – water, lower-fat milks and tea and coffee are good options.
- Listen to alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves
Reiterating the warnings, Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told The Sun: “Our hearts don’t like the heat, and they will be working much harder than normal to cope with the extreme weather.
“Hospital admissions for heart attacks and strokes increase during a heatwave, so it’s vital we look after ourselves and each other as the temperature soars.”
People with elderly relatives should also make sure they are finding a way to keep cool during the lockdown, Age UK has warned.
The charity’s director, Caroline Abrahams, said older people are more susceptible to heat-related illness.
The important thing is keeping in touch and to make sure older people are okay.
“Lockdown and shielding bring added complications as it can be harder to spot someone who may be getting into difficulties and in need of extra help,” she said.
“There are so many different ways to get in touch during the pandemic, whether it’s a note through the door, picking up the phone, or, for those online, messaging via social media or chatting by video message like Face Time or Skype.
“The important thing is keeping in touch and to make sure older people are okay.”
Watch for heat stroke signs
Dr Dawn Richards, GP at Vitality Health, said it’s important to know the signs of heat stroke, so you can act quicker.
“In very hot and humid weather, sweat cannot evaporate quickly enough, and the body cannot cool itself down,” she explained.
“Our body temperature will start to rise as a result and develop into heat exhaustion, and, if not treated, this condition can very quickly lead to a serious condition called heat stroke.
“Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.”
She also offered advice on when to know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
“Heat exhaustion is caused by loss of salt and water from the body through excessive sweating.
“Perspiration is your body’s natural way of cooling itself. Symptoms should improve quickly by cooling and rehydrating the body, but if left untreated it can progress to heatstroke.
“The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.”
Forecasters say the UK is set for record-breaking temperatures this week – prompting experts to issue a Level 2 “heat health” warning for tomorrow.
The rare alert is triggered when the risk is 60 per cent or above for threshold temperatures being reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.
“This is an important stage for social and healthcare services who will be working to ensure readiness and swift action to reduce harm from a potential heatwave,” the Met Office said.
It is working with Public Health England to help healthcare services prepare for periods of “extreme temperature”.
The hottest day of the year could be recorded several times over as the mercury climbs towards 34 degrees in the south of the UK by Thursday.
However, the record for the hottest June day ever looks set to remain in tact, as temperatures will not quite reach the 35.6c seen in 1976.
Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said: “We’ve got high pressure to the South East of the UK over the next few days which is going to be drawing our air up from the continent”, and the warmer climates of France and Spain.
Tuesday’s top temperature is expected to be around 29C in the South Wast of England, with other areas quite widely getting into the mid 20s, the forecaster said.
The hottest day of the year so far was 28.9C reached last month, and Mr Miall explained: “It’s likely tomorrow will beat that in the South, do it again on Wednesday and then again on Thursday.
“Thursday will probably be the hottest day in the region of 33 or 34 degrees”, but he added “that’s not quite the June record from 1976”.
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“Although it’s fairly uncommon to get 34 in June at the moment, it doesn’t look like we’re going to break any of the records.”
Things will start to cool off for the weekend, and the meteorologist explained: “By Saturday most places will be seeing the fresher air coming across for the weekend, so although it might still be humid at times I think generally temperatures will be falling below heatwave.”
With the dry and sunny weather expected and the Government’s Covid-19 alert level lowered to three, emergency services across the country are urging people to continue to respect the two-metre social-distancing restriction.